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[casi] Respect for the dead

Dear list

One of the most unpleasant aspects of the US at war is their lack of respect
for the adversary. With this in mind, I have just sent the following letter
to my MP, (Roger Williams, Lib Dem, who generally supported the anti-war
position). I would particularly draw attention to the last sentence.



Dear Roger

As you probably know, Article 17 of the 1949 First Geneva Convention, 'for
the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in
the Field' states:

'Parties to the conflict shall ensure that burial or cremation of the dead,
carried out individually as far as circumstances permit, is preceded by a
careful examination, if possible by a medical examination, of the bodies,
with a view to confirming death, establishing identity and enabling a report
to be made. One half of the double identity disc, or the identity disc
itself if it is a single disc, should remain on the body.


'They shall further ensure that the dead are honourably interred, if
possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged, that
their graves are respected, grouped if possible according to the nationality
of the deceased, properly maintained and marked so that they may always be
found. For this purpose, they shall organize at the commencement of
hostilities an Official Graves Registration Service, to allow subsequent
exhumations and to ensure the identification of bodies, whatever the site of
the graves, and the possible transportation to the home country. These
provisions shall likewise apply to the ashes, which shall be kept by the
Graves Registration Service until proper disposal thereof in accordance with
the wishes of the home country.

'As soon as circumstances permit, and at latest at the end of hostilities,
these Services shall exchange, through the Information Bureau mentioned in
the second paragraph of Article 16, lists showing the exact location and
markings of the graves, together with particulars of the dead interred

I would be very grateful if you could obtain assurances from the government
that this convention is being observed with respect to the war dead from the
present conflict in Iraq. Apart from the necessary respect for the dead,
this should enable a fairly precise accounting to be made of military
casualties from the war. Also if you could find out where the sites are of
the graves 'grouped ... according to the nationality of the deceased,
properly maintained and marked so that they may always be found' of enemy
combatants who fell in Afghanistan and in Kuwait (in 1991).

Yours sincerely, Peter Brooke

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